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COMING SOON!

TAKE COURAGE (a series of 4 books!)

- FINDING COURAGE IN GOD FOR LIFE

by Michelle J. Simpson

Full of stories and anecdotes, along with biblical truth, this book will be a great source of help and encouragement to many.

 

THE SECOND ACT

- THE REMARKABLE STORY OF MISSIONARY JAMES O. FRASER'S SUCCESSOR

by Stuart Simpson

This is the story about Stuart's close association with one of the most successful missionaries in the modern era, along with 20 key principles and lessons we can learn from Fraser's life and ministry, still applicable today.

FINDING GOD IN CHINESE CHARACTERS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 by Stuart M. Simpson

A unique pack of 25 Chinese characters with bi-lingual explanatory guide.

A great tool for anyone with Chinese friends and in ministry to Chinese!

Tuesday
Apr052011

Why China Matters

A new global superpower is emerging within the international community which will impact life as we have known it hitherto.  Indeed, since the end of World War Two the United States has been the world’s sole dominant power and as a consequence the prevailing culture, transported on the wings of globalization, has essentially been ‘Western’.  Actually, Western dominance goes back some two hundred years as prior to the U.S. the baton of global power was in European hands.  From the beginning of Britain’s Industrial Revolution in the late eighteenth century to the middle of the twentieth century, Europe was to shape global history profoundly, both through its industrialization and also through its colonial conquest.

China’s Growing Influence
However, the days of European hegemony have long gone and now the shift of power is beginning to take place from the West to the non-Western world.  The so-called Developed World (the U.S., Canada, Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan) is rapidly being overhauled in terms of economic size by the developing world, especially China.  In 2010, China overtook Japan as the world’s second largest economy and is predicted to become the world’s biggest within the next two decades.  Economists are speculating that the Chinese yuan could overtake the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency in the next twenty years.  Whereas the nineteenth century belonged to Britain and the twentieth to the United States, some say the twentieth-first century will be the ‘Chinese Century’.

Such a shift in the global balance of power is taking place largely unnoticed by most people.  China, with its 5,000 year history behind it is prepared to play the long game and patiently work towards regaining its position of ascendency in the world and once again being restored to its place as the Middle Kingdom.  The Chinese have long seen themselves as the greatest civilization on earth, and after the ‘century of humiliation’ where they suffered at the expense of European and Japanese imperialism, there is a deep desire to see justice done and China restored to what it believes is its rightful position at the centre of the world.

How this takes place is likely to be different from the rise of Western modernity.  Although mainstream Western attitude is one that China’s rise will result in little change and a belief that China will in due course become like a typical Western nation (with the rule of law, human rights regimes and democratic norms being adopted alongside its free market economy), there are strong reasons to suggest, given the weight of its history and culture, that China will not simply conform to these expectations and just assimilate the West.

China has never been subject to popular sovereignty and the government continues to retain its power based on the ancient tradition and principle of the ‘mandate of heaven’.  This sanction to govern is given by a supreme, moral and impersonal deity (Heaven) which holds the ruling government accountable and prompts a change in the minds of the people if the country experiences a succession of bad harvests, growing poverty, or a series of natural disasters.  Despite its growing economy and global influence there are many domestic issues that could threaten and derail its continued rise to greater power on the world stage.[1]  Given that China’s double-digit economic growth is dependent upon its export market, protectionism abroad would impact the economic growth rate and would exacerbate problems on the domestic front.  The Western world expected China’s Communist Party to go the way of Communism in Europe but in spite of some ‘low’ moments (eg. Tiananmen Square 1989 and a series of earthquakes and flooding since the 1990s) the State government continues to earn the right to rule through creating and recreating the modern Chinese state and giving its people the belief that China will one day restore its status and power in the world.

However China’s rise to global prominence will look, what is apparent is that with over 20 per cent of the world’s population and its growing power internationally, the Chinese cannot be overlooked.  They will carry an influence in the future that will have far-ranging implications, not only economically but in other ways as well.[2]

In terms of the advance of the kingdom of God, in spite of the attempts by Mao’s Communist regime to eradicate Christianity and the ongoing persecution of Christians, recent decades have seen the fastest growth of the Church in human history take place within China.  It has been predicted that if the number of Christians within China continues to increase at the present rate, within the next couple of decades, around one third of the world’s most populous nation will be Christians.[3]  Given such a projection, one may think that the Church in China is clearly effective in evangelizing their own people and that little more needs to be done by Christians elsewhere.  This is where we must not allow the positive reports concerning the growth of the Church in some parts of China, lull us into a passivity and way of thinking that assumes nothing more needs to be done.

Three Key Reasons
Here are three key reasons why we must engage with what God is doing in China today:

MANY PEOPLE, MANY UNREACHED
1.  China makes up more than 1/5th of the world’s population.  Whilst estimates of the number of Christians within the country range from 70 million-150 million, this equates to less than 10 per cent of the population.  Millions await to hear the gospel for the first time, including more than 400 ethnic nationality groups, cut off by cultural and linguistic barriers from hearing the gospel.

FUTURE GLOBAL INFLUENCE
2.  China is an emerging global superpower and will increasingly play an influential role on the world stage.  Unlike the U.S. which following the Second World War has been the world’s most dominant power, and Europe before it (most notably Great Britain), China does not have the foundation of a Judeo-Christian faith.  This is significant.  However, with the growth of the Church in China today, there is a tremendous window of opportunity to disciple the nation in the ways of God so that its growing influence worldwide is a godly one.

We must not assume that evangelization alone will achieve this.  The continent of Africa is a case in point and illustrates this is insufficient.  Despite Africa being the most evangelized continent in the world with some 80 per cent of the population south of the Sahara calling themselves Christians, little transformation has occurred with Africa still very much dependent on the West and the rest of the Developed World, and with no significant leadership role globally.  Referring to what he calls ‘Africa’s enigma’, the late Dr Adeyemo (former General Secretary of the Association of Evangelicals in Africa) wrote, ‘I salute the early missionaries who came to us, but often the gospel did not get beyond skin deep because it did not transform our traditional worldview.’

What China becomes in the future, and its influence on the rest of the world as it assumes a position of global prominence, can be greatly impacted by how the Church engages with its peoples today.  A critical window of opportunity exists now!

CHINESE DIASPORA
3.  Wherever you live you will have the opportunity of reaching out to the Chinese scattered around the world.  My daughter was recently in Togo, West Africa and came across a number of Chinese who had recently emigrated there (or more correctly had been sent there) and were doing business.  In order to keep its economy growing, China has invaded Africa to satisfy its insatiable desire for raw materials (but this is another issue). 

Every year, some 180,000 Chinese leave China to study abroad.  This number is expected to increase to 300,000 by 2020.  Hundreds of these are designated future leaders purposely sent overseas to gain international exposure and to get a world-class education at the world’s best universities.  Most of China’s future leaders will emerge from those who have studied overseas.  What China becomes in the future will depend to a very large degree on what becomes of the Chinese students studying overseas today.   

This God-given window of opportunity to invest in the kingdom of God in and through China is before us today, how will YOU respond?

 


[1] According to Professor Yu Jianrong of the Donghua University, official statistics show the number of recorded incidents of mass unrest are "boiling ... to the point of explosion". They have risen from 8,709 in 1993 to more than 90,000 in each of 2007 through 2009. Reasons cited include an aggrieved class of dispossessed migrants and unemployed workers, a deep loss of faith in the system among many Chinese and a weakening in the traditional means of state control.  Professor Hu Xingdou of the Beijing University of Technology said corruption, state monopolies, the yawning wealth gap and the rising cost of housing, education and medical care all contribute significantly to unrest. He said land seizures and the widening wealth gap were the two top factors. 

[2] For those interested in exploring this further I recommend When China Rules the World: the End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order, by British scholar and journalist Martin Jacques, 2009

[3] Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power by David Aikman, 2003 & 2006



Wednesday
Dec312008

Chinese Characters Reveal Christian Gospel

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end." (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

UNKNOWN to many Chinese people, the foundational truths of Christianity can be found in the most ancient forms of pictographic Chinese writing. The original religion of the ancient Chinese was a belief in the Creator God of the Bible. These findings, as detailed in the book God's Promise to the Chinese,1 can be used to help break through the Chinese misconception that Christianity is a western religion.

In each issue of our publication, 'China Aware', we include a Chinese character with an explanation of its meaning in relation to the Bible. These can be used as a tool to help show Chinese friends that from the beginning of Chinese civilization, God has sought to reveal Himself to the Chinese people.

RIGHTEOUSNESS (pronounced 'yi')

The traditional character for 'righteousness' is 'a lamb over me'. In the Bible, lambs were sacrificed in order 'to cover the sins' of the people until the time when Jesus Himself died and became 'the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!' (John 1:29). The bottom half of the character which means 'me' is composed of a hand and a lance, a weapon, which tells the story that I am ultimately responsible for the death of the Lamb, for my hand is holding the killing instrument.

 

Simplified script


COVET OR DESIRE (pronounced 'lan')

The Chinese character for 'covet' or 'desire' shows a woman and two trees. In the ancient pictograph, we find the woman facing one tree, coveting the fruit, with her back to the second tree (tree of life). This is in line with the biblical record of mankind's sin in the Garden of Eden, where the woman stood before the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and took of the forbidden fruit (see Genesis 3). A similar character (pronounced 'jin') meaning 'prohibit' or 'forbid', also contains two trees above a character ('shi') which means 'instruct'.

1 God's Promise to the Chinese by Nelson, Broadberry & Chock is available in both English and Mandarin.